By Stephanie Montague
I had a friend with a daughter who was a little girl at the time. If we were watching something that seemed scary to her, she would cover her ears but keep looking at the screen. I know…most of us would do the opposite; and some of us, like me, might do both. I don’t want to see and/or hear what’s happening. I suppose the little girl didn’t want to hear the effects which seemed worse than just watching it. I’ve often heard people say “I can’t stop watching a train wreck.” I don’t know about that, I believe most of us would turn away. But I then I began thinking about the little girl’s reaction. I realized why the image came to me and it begged the question…Do we use the right filters in our lives?
We can all close our eyes. And sometimes closing your eyes is involuntary like when you fall asleep. Unless there is some disorder, you can close them on your own and they close when you’re sleep. Our eyes take in a countless amount of information in day let alone our lives. It’s a camera, a photo copier and visual directory. You may have only seen someone once in your life but if you come across it again you will remember you’ve seen it before. This visual memory is important. It helps us recognize people from our past and even danger. Yes, danger. You may have only seen poison ivy once but when you see it again you remember to steer clear. Our visual memory allows us to not have to relearn everything all over again every day. Just as our visual memory is good, it can also be “bad” because we see something that will stick with us too. Rather than focusing on the visual memory of our eyes, I want to focus on our ability to close them. Closing our eyes is a good filter. We can stop receiving visual information. But one of the other ways of information can never be closed…it is our ears.
We never think of the open gateway of our ears. We take in countless amounts of information from the time we wake up until we sleep. And if you sleep with the television on, you are still taking in information. Subconsciously, you can still hear while you are sleeping. We don’t think much about all the stuff we hear in our day. Conversations with co-workers. News. Conversations with friends. Music. Gossip. We are bombarded all over with no filter in place. Temporarily, you can put your headphones on or spend time alone with nothing on in the car or in your house, but it is temporary. Unless you are hearing impaired you hear everything around you…even when you think you’re not listening. You may be saying what’s the big deal? I hear stuff all the time…so what? The big deal and the what is how all these things stick and stay with us…and how they come back to us sometimes without purposely recanting them.
How many times does a song you didn’t even intend to learn get stuck in your mind? You find yourself singing along, or knowing the hook without any effort all because they played it a million times on the radio. How about knowing commercials jiggles or the words of commercial, and you weren’t even trying? We have to be mindful of conversations we entertain. Not because they aren’t informative or interesting, but because of how we digest what we hear. Yes, digest. Anything that enters into the body through our gates or portal feeds us, fuels us and energizes us. You ever notice someone get excited to hear some juicy gossip? They quickly brighten up, sit down and or move closer to hear it all. They just got a boost. You hear a song and get happy. You hear a different song you can become sad or angry. It’s all feeding us. Now we are all saying, “Well, what do we do?” There is no one answer but here are a few things:
1. Walk away We don’t have to stay around to hear the gossip.
2. Change the channel We don’t have to spend time watching and listening to the news (or that friend talking negatively) and listen to it over and over, drinking in all the sadness in our community. Once you know it, you know what to pray about, not sitting there for a whole hour hearing the same reports repeated twenty times, filling you with dismay, gloom or anger.
3. Replace it Is there something better to listen to or watch? Is this a good time to build yourself up with affirmations or something similar to build your inner man? Find it. A better song, a better show or movie is out there. Let’s shift ourselves, and our spirit to something that will uplift.
4. Examine and cast out Let’s face it, we cannot weed out everything because like I said we don’t have a filter. But what we can do when words (and images) play back is to examine if feeds, fuels and builds us as an individual. As a Christian, you can ask whether this aligns with the word of God according to Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (KJV) or 2 Corinthians 10:5: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
I’m sure you can think if many other ways to be aware of what’s going into our ears (and eyes). It is a daily journey. Journey well.
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